Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dutch Oven Basics: Salmon and Rice

When you’re cooking in your dutch oven, and especially when you’re just learning, you do a lot of really simple recipes, and cook a lot of easy stuff, like cobblers and biscuits from a can. These are great. They taste yummy.

But for me, I wanted to learn to cook some dishes that also carried a lot of “Wow!” factor, both in the look and in the taste. I wanted to also make some things that, when I set it down in front of people, they would really be dazzled.

I guess if you wanted to, you could look at something like that and say that I have a deep-seated need for approval and I need therapy. And you probably wouldn’t be too far off!

This dish is very simple. Like the stew from last week, it is a one-step, one-pot meal. It’s not really a “dump” meal, however, it’s more of a “layered” meal. Still, it’s very simple to prepare, and very easy to cook, too. And, when it’s all done, and you put it on people’s plates, it really wow’s them.

This, for me, is also a landmark dish. It’s one of the first ones I created myself. I took it to forth place at the Eagle Mountain Pony Express Days Cookoff one year. You’ll notice that I altered this recipe slightly from the one back then.

Baked Salmon and Rice

12” dutch oven
8-9 coals below
16-18 coals above

  • 1 1/2 Cups Rice
  • 3 Cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans Cream of Something Soup1 can tiny shrimp
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 small can water chestnuts
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped thyme
  • black pepper (preferably coarse ground, or, better, fresh ground)
  • Salt
  • 3-5 Good sized portions of salmon (1 for each person eating) It can be frozen or fresh
  • Butter
  • 2 lemons, sliced

I started by lighting up a bunch of coals. By the time all of the food was prepared and in the dutch oven, the coals were white and ready, too.

This dish is created in the dutch oven, but it’s not dumped in. It’s built up in layers. Once it’s cooking, you won’t want to stir it. The bottom layer is the rice, the broth (or water), the garlic, and the cans of soup and shrimp. I mixed those up fairly thoroughly.

Once that layer is done, I sliced up the onions and the celery. I added the water chestnuts, and stirred those together. Then, I gently laid those three veggies on top of the first layer. I sprinkled a generous amount of the parsley and the thyme over the top, as well as the salt and the pepper.

Then I covered the veggies with a layer of the salmon filets. I dusted each piece of salmon with more salt and pepper, then put a small pat of butter on top of each one. On top of that, I added two slices of lemon. The dish was ready for the fire!

While it was cooking, I turned it often. I would turn the lid about a quarter turn, then pick up the oven and turn it back the other way a quarter turn. That way, the coals were in different positions relative to the food, and it cooks more evenly. I cooked it for about an hour and only opened the lid a few times. You want to keep the steam in to cook the fish and the rice. While it’s cooking, the cells of the lemon burst and the lemon juice runs down with the melted butter onto the fish and into the rice. It’s an incredible flavor.

You have to keep heat on it. After about 30 to 40 minutes the coals will start to burn down, and so you’ll need to replenish them. About 15 to 20 minutes after I put the first batch of coals on the oven, I’ll add fresh coals to the “side fire”, where there are still a few leftover coals burning. These coals will catch the fresh ones, and once the coals on the dutch oven are dwindling, they’ll be ready to add.

Not only is it delicious, but it’s really easy to fix. And it really impresses people!

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